When riding a bicycle, be it electric or otherwise, it's always a good idea to wear a helmet, regardless of whether or you're riding near or far. Just like motorcycle helmets, most bicycle helmets worth owning have undergone rigorous testing and are compliant with various industry standards when it comes to safety.
While in most parts of the world, there are no laws explicitly mandating the use of helmets, it's a known fact that helmets play a major role in reducing injuries in the event of a bike crash. Having said that, there can be many reasons as to why someone would not want to wear a helmet – size and bulkiness being two of the main reasons. With that, a startup from Germany seeks to give cyclists more options when it comes to helmets.
The company is called Inflabi, and its newest product of the same name may seem weird and dorky at first, but hear me out. The Inflabi helmet, as you've probably guessed, is an inflatable bicycle helmet. It's made out of TPU, or thermoplastic polyurethane air chambers that have been fused together with a rubber seam welding technique, and then coated in an abrasion resistant fabric. Said chambers can be inflated and deflated with valves on the back, and yes, a regular bicycle tire pump does this job, but Inflabi packages the helmets with a pump included. It reportedly takes just 20 seconds to inflate the helmet.
Naturally, an inflatable helmet means that it's much smaller than a regular helmet when not in use. As such, if you're one to pack light, you could possibly even keep the uninflated helmet in a side pocket in your backpack, or perhaps even a pocket in your jacket. Apart, of course, from its compact dimensions when not in use, the Inflabi is also much lighter than even the lightest carbon fiber helmets. After all, it's 70 percent air, and the prototype weighs in at just 140 grams.
At this point, a lot of you are probably wondering if a helmet like this is even safe. I mean, you're essentially strapping an inflatable on your head, right? Well, according to Inflabi, their helmet offers four times the shock absorption of a conventional bike helmet. On top of that, it's reportedly set to receive full European EU1078 safety certification before 2023 draws to a close.
Tech like this will undeniably come at quite a price – but one that puts it at par with mid-tier to premium bike helmets. Expected to be offered for pre-sale in August, Inflabi estimates prices for its helmet to be around the 150-Euro ($163 USD) mark. Full availability is scheduled for November, 2023.
Gear options like Inflabi are particularly interesting, especially in today's rapidly growing e-bike market. Understandably, electric bicycles are much more dangerous than standard bikes given their electric assist, so the need for safety gear and equipment is further emphasized.